Once upon a time UK Fords and German Fords differed. And once upon a time UK Vauxhalls and German Opels differed. Then Ford and GM unified their European operations. How long did that take?
The process began for Ford in 1967 with the creation of Ford of Europe. For GM it is a bit hazier because their UK and Continental brands kept their names. Ford’s UK and German design centres co-operated on the 1972 Ford Granada. For the 1976 version, Merkenich handled the design. After 1976 there were no more UK-only models (Cortina), as one after another the range became uniform on both sides of the channel: Fiesta, Escort, Sierra, Capri and Granada.
With Vauxhall’s future under PSA coming under renewed scrutiny, we look back to Luton’s mid-’70s upmarket ambitions.
As automotive industry analysts ponder the fate of Opel / Vauxhall in the wake of PSA’s takeover, one possible future mapped out involves a shift upmarket. On the face of things, this appears about as likely as PSA getting a sudden rush of blood to the head and starting to take Citroën seriously, but as (im)possible futures go, it may not be entirely unthinkable.
Recently we have been debating Opel and Vauxhall. The general consensus is not that good for a brand fielding its best products since the last lot of good products…
…which, if you think about it, it is pretty much most of their cars with one very debatable model and one not debatable model. For reasons known only to Opel and Vauxhall’s marketing staff, Opel have been tarred with a Clarkson-shaped brush. Good old Sir Jeremy, now Lord, Clarkson, saw fit to damn the Vectra “B” because it wasn’t an Alfa Romeo, Porsche or BMW M3 but happened to suit the needs of regular motorists.
There’s something rather peculiar about selling the only car of its kind in the whole country and noting it’s a “non-smoker’s car”. Is there really a person who will consider a car like this only if the ashtray has been unused?
There’s only one on sale in Denmark at the moment.
“Peter Fintl is the director of technology and innovation at the German subsidiary of the French development services provider Altran, which works closely with PSA. He has a precise understanding of PSA’s technology strategy.
“PSA doesn’t need Opel’s conventional technology,” Fintl said. “Since both manufacturers are active in the same class, it is likely that the Opel platforms will be gradually decommissioned and PSA technologies introduced.” (Automotive News) This is excellent timing: “Opel has just invested 210 million euros in a new development and test centerfor engines and transmissions in Ruesselsheim. The center, which went into operation last October, employs 800 engineers.”Continue reading “Little Or No Corrective Action”
Despite this particular group of people hardly being renowned connoisseurs of the finer things in life, manufacturers try their utmost to make the Frankfurt Motor Show a palatable experience for the press. Do they succeed?
The IAA press days are all about hustle and bustle. Most attendees have appointments to make or deadlines to meet, which – coupled with the distances that need to be covered at Messe Frankfurt, not to mention the above average levels of dehydration, (courtesy of the halls’ air conditioning) one is afflicted with – can render grabbing a bite to eat a difficult necessity. Continue reading “IAA 2017: A Culinary Perspective”
Today we have another chance to document the ordinary but now rare E80 Corolla.
To be precise it’s the EE80 three door hatchback, 1985 to 1987.
We’ve documented the saloon here and I argued that it’s a collection of near-neutralities. The hatch has the same basic simplicity (the surfaces have the least possible curvature) yet there is a hint more expression noticeable. It’s in the rake of Continue reading “Holy Moley Cannoli”
Interesting this: Wikipedia does not note the existence of the three-door estate. It does list a 2-d00r saloon, a 4 door saloon, a coupe and a five door wagon plus the enigmatic two-door van.
And a picture search reveals very little like this but does show the 5-door estate, and a two-door saloon in some numbers. Is this a Danish-market special? No, but it was not very widespread. Continue reading “Within and Beyond”
I will try to focus this one on the aftermarket wheels and not the car they happen to adorn.
It’s a 1999-2003 Opel Omega (B2 to those in the know). As I said before, in the aftermarket we find tricky ground. Who am I to say these wheels are not the ones for this car? My argument is that the wheels have really low-profile rubber and they do not help the rest of the suspension do its job which in this car’s case was high-speed stability and comfort rather than maximum grip at intermediate speeds. Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – Let’s All Think About This, Shall We?”
General Motors – the name is a clue – are virtuosos in the art of the world car. This is not to say they haven’t played a few bum notes in their time.
It’s too early to speculate how the Opel Insignia B will perform on its world tour, but its diverse audiences will demand versatility as well as capability. Launched proudly earlier this year in Switzerland, the Insigregaldore carries four badges; a lightning bolt, a mythical beast which appears to be self-conscious about underarm odour, three shields, and from February 2018, a lion. Continue reading “Two Lions, Four Continents, One Car”
This isn’t about the Opel Insignia though the words came from a review of the car. It’s about what kind of lives automotive journalists lead. It’s about language.
“The previous Insignia fulfilled the purpose of getting you from A to B in a well-equipped and reasonably comfortable manner…” wrote Car magazine the other day. What could they possibly mean***? Continue reading “Princess and the Pea”
This car is a kind of pithy comment on recent Opel news.
You don’t see many around and you see even fewer Golfs and Escorts of the same period. The same goes for the other cars. My street is a nest of Astras (saloons, mostly) and I think this is a tangible riposte to the assumption that there’s something wrong, in principle, with Opel. Interestingly, or tellingly, I saw the new BMW 5 series today, Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1984-1991 Opel Kadett”
Opel’s slow walk into the history books, to join Panhard and Saab, has begun. It occurred just as I came to understand what Opel was about.
You can read the technical details here. The important and ominous part is this: “Tavares told his board that PSA would redevelop the core Opel lineup with its own technologies to achieve rapid savings, according to people with knowledge of the matter” (from AN Europe).
While I was reviewing the last generation Opel Astra, I noted that the description of the mechanicals differed little from its peers. So, you might say, where is the great loss? Even if you don’t care for Opel, its absorption into the PSA combine will reduce meaningful competition among the most important classes of cars.
This review concludes a slow tour through the middle-market. It’s the Astra’s turn.
DTW has tested the Ford Focus, Megane, the Golf and the Auris. That means I can put some of those reviews in perspective as well as offer some insights on the corresponding offering from Opel, the Astra. It’s quite handy that all the cars tested came from the same source, which eliminates variables like colour and engine specification. So, it’s quite a level playing field the Astra and its peers are playing on.
It is always chastening to see humanity’s schemes laid low. From the grand boasts that accompanied the launch of the Titanic to some of the pledges that Barack Obama was not able to fulfil; even with the best of intentions we sometimes underperform.
Earlier this month we looked at the first brochure for the 1998 Fiat Multipla. Brimming with optimism, or some have suggested hubris, the public generally avoided the enthusiasm of that car’s creators. And now we look at another ‘failure’, the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera. Introduced in early 2012, the Europeanised version of the Chevrolet Volt was on sale in the UK for little more than two years. Continue reading “Theme : Brochures – Vauxhall Ampera”
PSA may purchase Opel. This story has been bubbling for a while and it has bubbled some more, like the sinister upwellings on the surface of a lava pool.
The Guardian has reported that PSA would expect rapid savings were they to buy Opel. “Carlos Tavares, the chief executive of PSA, which owns Peugeot, Citroën and DS, said on Thursday morning that adding GM’s German Opel and British Vauxhall brands would attract new customers and generate substantial cost savings. An outline agreement is expected to be announced as soon as next week, before the Geneva motor show starts on 6 March”, wrote the formerly Mancunian paper.
Two designers with long careers provide an insight worth looking at.
Two of our regular authors run their own blogs, which we have mentioned before. Mick has taken a look back at the work of Walter de Silva and finds much to praise but also there’s a sore point which is worthy of attention: de Silva’s penchant for absent rear door handles. I will admit to having been swept along on the unthinking currents of received wisdom. Now the point has been made I realise I had not been critical enough. And a ever-present thought that I had ignored now seems as plain as day: that 156 would be perfect were it not for the silly faux-coupé trope. Continue reading “Two Items About Designers”
A manufacturer’s range can draw its visual reference from either the smallest car or the largest.
Peugeot is a famous case of its style being led by a car from the bottom of the range. The 1983 Peugeot 205 ended what was seen at the time as a rough period for the firm. Subsequent models referred to the 205 in the hope that 205 magic might rub off. Top down is the reverse: the big car leads. Yesterday the news wires burned incandescent with discussions and reports of Opel’s new Crossland X, a vehicle dimensionally very similar to the Mokka. Continue reading “Bottom Up, Top Down Or Whatever”
As I get older, I find that many things I still view as contemporary are in reality, decades old. Music, fashion, events – cars even. The subject of this photo is a case in point. Old enough to be dismissed as a banger, yet to my mind at least, still sufficiently contemporary for this scenario to be unusual. Continue reading “Back to Nature”
Here is a working car, heading the wrong way, from new to neglected. It’s getting tatty and probably won’t have a next owner. These Omegas disappeared quite rapidly after production ceased in 2004. The period reviews had an approving tone, especially with regard to ride quality. Continue reading “A Photo For Christmas Day”
For some reason, I’ve been thinking about the chance of a better future recently. Car advertising always promises that. Cars seldom deliver it.
The better future is what most the people in old car adverts seem to take for granted. A trim young couple grin out at me, assuming things will just carry on getting better and better. For them, maybe they did. Certainly their marriage was statistically going to last a fair bit longer than that Vauxhall Victor F that they seem to be so pleased with, but which is probably rusting already. Today, that Insignia may no longer originate in Luton, but it may well last far longer than the modern couple. If they are a couple. Or maybe they’re just colleagues. Actually they look a damn sight more pleased with themselves than with the Vauxhall. Continue reading “To the Victor …….”
“It would appear that emissions, efficiency and cost are driving the V6 over a cliff. I would not wager a whole lot of money that Opel will still offer a V6 when the Insignia is replaced.” We got that one right. Opel revealed the 2017 Insignia-replacement the other day and we find that “the engine range is made up exclusively of turbocharged four-cylinder units and is crowned by a 247bhp 2.0-litre engine”. (Autocar)
Ascona could be a place that takes you to other places, as in the driver’s seat of the Opel Ascona (1970-1988) or it could be the town in the Locarno district of Switzerland. I have to admit that until very recently in my life the Opel’s Swiss association lingered at the very far back of my mind. It lurked somewhere with Portuguese kings and medieval musical instruments. For most of my time on earth Ascona meant not a nice Swiss town but an unremarkable shape that usually rusted by the side of the road. Continue reading “Theme: Places – Ascona”
As promised during the weekend here is a small reconsideration of the Opel Corsa, this time the 1.4 litre, 75 PS petrol five-door.
We had a short review of the 1.0 litre version in the summer of 2015 and decided it was okay. This time I have the 1.4 litre mid-spec version to try.
I can immediately say that the uprated interior decorations make for a much more festive feeling. The steering wheel looks like it’s the nice one from the Adam and so the upshot of this is that without wood and leather and shades of beige, it still makes for a comfortable and quite convivial driving environment. My notes, written up after a hard charging day at the wheel, list the nice steering, smooth uptake and HVAC controls that won’t cause you to Continue reading “Corsa Revisited”
In the rental car lottery I drew the Corsa straw. There will be a short report on it before very long.
The first thing I noticed related to the spec. They have Adamed this version so it has more of a feel-good factor than the one I rented in 2015. I drove off in the dark which somehow made me more aware of the delightfully light steering and also the fun way the dials do a test sweep of the car’s instrument faces. It’s a pleasant vehicle to drive around town and the city-steering makes it a breeze. The day’s mission is a four hour drive over motorways and country roads. We’ll see the car bears up in the course of the day…
Opel used lot of design talent on the Meriva. It had a superb interior with some excellent colour and fabric options. The window line was unique in that it recognised the fact the kids in the back might want to see out. That’s user-centred design which I can only applaud. Those doors too.Continue reading “Goodbye MPVs and Other Opel Stuff”
Not another Astra, Richard. Yes: it’s the rare 3-door with full Comfort spec.
That means green-grey velour, rear headrestraints and rear centre armrests plus a/c. Did any Focus or Golf three door have such luxurious trim? If it wasn’t such an unusual trim-body combination I would not have tried to photograph it. Generally, three door versions of the cars used to be priced lower than the five doors and were more budget-orientated. Opel offered another path to top-level trim so you could avoid the five door if you wanted.
For two wonderful years the Opel Kadett and Opel Astra F shared space at Opel dealers across this wonderful continent (1991 to 1993).
And Bertone in Turin supplied the car too. That Bertone supplied the mechanism and built the bodies is news to me. It competed with the Ford Escort cabriolet, made by Karmann, and the Golf cabriolet, made by Karmann, which was the Mk 1 Golf, as per 1974 minus a roof. In addition to traditional Opel qualities, the Kadett also had a certain degree of Italian style lacking from its peers… Continue reading “1987-1993 Opel Kadett Cabriolet”
We haven’t quite got around to exploring this so much.
In mitigation, I’ll present the interesting colour combination of the Opel Agila “Njoy” special edition. Critics of my Opel bias can roll their eyes if they wish. However, in keeping an eye out for bright, distinctive colours while roving around Germany it’s been Opels (Corsas, Merivas, Astras) that have been most likely to have characterful paint jobs. Continue reading “Theme: Colour Micropost”
This is the second last item in the collection, a mid-grey Astra F in five-door guise.
The majority in my area are other colours and mostly saloons and estates. I saw this in Goslar, Germany. Nearby skulked a Ford Probe and that’s all the semi-interesting metal I can find in these parts. This generation Astra is not common here. This is one of very few.
Twenty-five years ago, Opel launched the Astra F. As far as I can ascertain, this is the only place where you will find that event marked.
You might find it odd that DTW (or just is it just me) continue to bang on the Astra drum. One reason that I like to draw people’s attention to this is because the recognition of good design is often rendered harder by ancillary matters of fashion and consensus and I’d like people to see past that. The received wisdom is that in the C-class the Golf is the gold medallist. The Golf has many positive attributes: often its quality of construction is superior to the average of the day; some versions are acknowledged driver’s cars; some versions are neatly designed. However, the Golf’s arch enemy, the Astra has lingered too long in the shadows of the Wolfsburg car and if you are blinded by consensus you are missing something lovely. Continue reading “Anatomy Of A Star: 1991 Opel Astra”
The building opposite produced these reflections on the front wing of this Opel Mokka.
2015 Opel Mokka
Notice the red band which forms an ellipse around the top of the wheel arch flare and then runs up to the a-pillar. It’s quite a complex area. It would be even clearer if the red stripe on the building emitted light instead of reflecting it. You seldom see reflections like this in the street as there is so much ‘noise’ in the surroundings.
Hot on the tracks of yesterday’s revised Lexus RX, I have decided to see what the 2016 Opel Astra would look like without its fussy C-pillar.
This sketch is messier than the Lexus because of the number of panels involved and the number of alternatives. And I am no good at rendering. I decided to go first for a version where the side-glass stopped at the door cut-out. I could have added a pane aft of the door but left it as the Occam’s Razor approach to the problem. Then I tried to Continue reading “2016 Opel Astra Revised”
It’s been confirmed the next Opel Senator will be a crossover – as indeed it appears will everything else. Are we approaching a tipping point?
When GM showed the Avenirconcept earlier this year, many viewed it as a sign Buick was serious about re-entering the full-sized luxury saloon market with something along more traditional lines. For enthusiasts here in Europe it prompted speculation as to the potential for a similarly proportioned model – a latter day Opel Senator if you will. Continue reading “Sign of the Cross”
DTW might be the world’s least influential car site but sometimes our views have some resonance.
Some time back we ran an article about the Opel Speedster. We hinted that the high prices and scarcity of supply might make this a contender for early classic status. Car magazine seems to agree and describe it as “affordable, nailed-on classic in waiting.” Car considered it a “sensational driver-centric revelation”, they say on page 124 of the current edition. The next thing is that the Renault Wind will be talked up as one to keep an eye on. But we got there first in 2014.
Not another Opel. But it is. This is a follow-up to our Opel Astra saloon. I’d like to draw your attention to the fine detailing of the rear side window.
And the aerodynamically-shaped rear wheel arch looks good too. The interior is a study in Spartan efficiency. The centre stack rises from the floor in a neat column and to its left is driver-orientated binnacle. The seats in this car look quite unmarked and the rest of the car is nearly unaffected by the passage of time. I’d guess it’s a late-model car, one owner, with a garage. It has a 1.3 engine, so it’s pre-1988. If I hope to achieve anything with this focus on Opel, it’s to Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1984-1991 Opel Kadett 1.3 S”
How has the new Vauxhall Astra been received so far?
There are two approaches to this. From the US, motoring scribes are asking what the new Astra means for Buick since the Astra-platform is going to be used as a basis for forthcoming Tri-Shield cars. The European view is more direct since we get the Astra without American make-up. Doubtless the Chinese are also asking about the Astra. It is sold there as the Buick Excelle XT. It’s the platform that matters rather than the dressing on top. The view is that the Astra had outgrown its class (whatever that really means). Continue reading “2016 Opel Astra Reviews Review”
We were talking about the relative merits of the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso and other cars. This is my preferred choice in this class. Nobody offers a nicer interior in this class. The Meriva can be as lush too.